Surviving the Off-Season by focusing on COMMUNITY and STRENGTHS

Surviving the Off-Season by Focusing on COMMUNITY and STRENGTHS

Off-Season

Many operators are familiar with their respective “high-season” and “low-season”. These seasons change based on region (geographically) and location (nationally). For example, Florida natives hit a point during the summer when it is so hot they can not leave their front door to get to their car without sweating! And many “non-natives” have already left by now to go back to their respective homes in the North- not to return again until the “high-season” in the fall. Alternatively, the northern states are opposite and have just started their “high-season” revolving around the couple of months you can actually get some good weather. Another example is a college town. Students leave after graduation or spring semester not to return again until the fall… The point: Business is YEAR-ROUND! As operators, it is important to know how to survive YOUR off-season and stay strong year after year. We have put this week’s blog together to offer you some helpful tips and creative marketing ideas. Enjoy!

Every interaction is the opportunity to create a unique experience.”

-Derek Lee, Exakt Marketing

Two key factors that will play a large role in your strategy are identifying touch points and working with your strengths. TOUCH POINTS will change during the off-season, so be aware of your customer interaction and gage these accordingly. STRENGTHS will come from the community- don’t force these! Many times operators will push Mondays because that is a “slow” day. However, if that is a slow day, rather than push it and force traffic, capitalize on heavy traffic times and make the most of them. If Fridays are high volume, make the most of each and every Friday. Remember, it’s about CONNECTING with the COMMUNITY.

Now that we have identified when and to whom you should market to during the off-season, let’s discuss some creative ways to get the word out. A common misconception about restaurants is that the food/concept/location make a difference at times like these. This is not necessarily true… Consistent food quality, basic concept, and any location can overcome hurdles by cross promoting with local business (ex: create a “paleo-diet” and promote with a near-by health club and give members a discount), being creative with their strengths, and connecting with their community. In addition, it is important to start gearing up for your off-season ahead of time. Here are some ideas on how to get this accomplished and set your restaurant up for success:

  • Charity Events- Team up with local charity events to get the word out about your restaurant to the community, but don’t GIVEAWAY your menu! Instead, create a special menu and pricing for the charity organization and let the food and service do the talking.

  • Networking Groups- Many times these are weekly meetings held by professionals and community influencers. Hosting a networking event is an ideal way to earn repeat business from locals and get some word-of-mouth advertising.

  • Find “Foodie” Bloggers*- Bloggers often carrying a huge credibility! By finding bloggers with large audiences, they can index your restaurant and share their experience with their following. Treat these diners well- appreciation goes a long way!

    • *How do you find “influence” yielders/bloggers? Try an advanced search on Twitter, Google “food blog (metro area)”, Alexa.com ranks blogs by traffic (smaller # is better)

  • Leverage local media- Local media wants good news and it shows power in community to stand up and reach out. Ways to do this include a Press Release, a well-kept LinkedIn page (this helps to connect on a professional level with news anchors, city officials, etc), and try to build a strong relationship with your local business journal.

Finally, be financially prepared. Engineer your menu to always include high-ticket items right before the off-season, get ahead of your food costs by controlling inventory, and always keep your community in mind. Don’t spend time and money forcing “Mondays”- focus on strong times and regulars. AppSuite mobile apps help you prepare for the off-season by offering operators the technology to build Customer Loyalty. For more on your own restaurant mobile app, schedule a FREE DEMO today and SURVIVE THE OFF-SEASON!

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